CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS SANITIZED
TITLE: Production At Small Posts
AUTHOR: C. R. Drave
A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol intelligence.
All siaicmcnls of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of
the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contenis should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
Impediments to the collection of intelligence at the one-manfield installation.
PRODUCTION AT SMALL POSTS
C. R. Omvc
This study of factors bearing on the productivity oft intelligence field post Is basedeview of experience' past decade with clandestine bases and stations that comprised only one or two intelligence officers, with oran administrative and communicationsne-man post was found to produce, other things being equal, onlyhird as many reportswo-man post. Andnumbers of reports Isrude quantitativeof productivity and completely Ignores quality,illthat the over-all value of the one-man post was on the average even lower thanatio would Indicate. Some of the conditions that produced this result were unavoidable; others could have been obviated or mltlgated.
The factors critical for productivity that emerge from the study are generally applicable to the field of covert collection, and many of them apply equally well to the lone overtThey fall Into fivevalidity of the post's mission, the quality of its staffing, its administrative workload, the guidance it receives, and its cover problems.
Validity of Purpose
A post's chances for high productivity were evidentlyat the start If no fairly specific job that needed doing gave rise to Its establishment. Of the several dozen posts herearge portion were Independent stations, each covering one small country and responsible directlyashington headquarter* These, we can assume, had valid missions In the coverage of their respective countries. But an even larger number were bases In countries eachtation. Some of these auxiliary bases or outposts had apparently been opened on general principles, thepurpose being only dimly anticipated and the base itself
Smotl Port I
expected to seek out ft specific mission. The city to bewas usually large and Industrial; or it was thought toommunist stronghold; or the general area wasas critical or strategic.
Such generalities may seem sufficient cause forase. But the Inescapable corollary to lack of particular purpose Is an absence of specific direction.ase chief is simply told to go out and operate, without theand stimulus of defined requirements, his output is more than likely to be poor.
>of good planning before the opermiV'small
bases can be cited to Illustrate procedures that mightbene-man base was establishedfter the prospects for its operationby it* future chief
lwhlle operationoastal town some distance
base nearh parallel in Soutl^Tctnilmwiu8 to debrief refugees from the north, run cross-border operations, and collect Information on the Annamese area only after three years of shuttling station officers up fron^aigon had failed to attain these object Ives. Thene-man outpost after actuallyway.
ase established4 near1
| provides an example of dearof cost and performance
network. It wasttro of these purposes*
ment of an effective caj^vaTrung**twas found Infeaslble and the post was closed because accomplishment of all three objectives was considered necessary to Justify the cost
The validity of concrete purposeroposalew base was in general manifested by sufficient examination of the operational potential and conditions on the spot and, where distance did not prevent It, by an attempt to develop thecoverage working out of the station. The Importance
of Lhe purpose was reflected also In the choice of operationsto man the base.
.The qualifications required tomall station or base are those generally desirable Lu any Intelligence officerbutarge establishment the strengths andof the different members of the staff tend to offset each other, whilene-man post there Is no remedyajor weakness or lack of experience in the singlefficers
a^-*t^&e on, their.first tours of duty overseas, who have had ndVexperii'.*.
<enceecruiting and directing covert sources, should not be
required to mount and run their first clandestine operations In the isolationne-man post.
Stations were sometimes able to staff their small basestheir own experienced staffs, as those In
id. This practice provided thehid some knowledge of the country and thea certain language competence, and anthe operational outlook and the inner workings ofOther small bases were staffed by men who hadTrie man whoeologist who had lived
years before. The chiefne-man station In jBhad spent seven years there before the war; he re Knew how to handle the problems of dally living. Including the difficult one of safeguarding the health of their children.
Area preparation by planned effort was Illustratedhief of base sentspent 20
months in VflB be was not lgccTanlabout
and knowlngtwo years In advance thate spent one year In language and area studyand thet head-
quarters. When he arrived he alreaayxnev/much about the place and its personalities, and his preparation provedwhen the rebellion broke out and he could not get much direction from the M
On the other hand, valuable specialists to the language and background knowledgeostile or target country other than the place of station were shown to be wasted at small
bases; they could generally have been used more profitably at headquarters or at the station. Theost is, the greater is the necessity that such specialists, if they are sent there, do their share of all the work, and this fact of life had not always been understood by the specialist himself and by the headquarters division or desk primarily concerned with that target country.
The most frequent complaint made by returnees from one-man posts concerned the Isolation to which they feltJg^rS&pt* there^.Some had-telt.alorrt^Xorg^
fact that they visited the main station at least once amonth and someone from the station occasionally came to see them. The solitary post Is no place for the organization man who needs the dally presence of colleagues to give him assurance.'
The essential qualities for such an assignment emerged as the self-reliance and resourcefulness to reach decisions alone, with deliberation but without hesitation or anxiety. One out^ post chief found that the best way to get direction from his station was to present his Intentions and say that unless he heard to the contraryertain date he would assumeAnother, even though he was on his first tour, showed the same self-reliance: in presenting problems to the station or to headquarters he made up his own mind first andrecommendations Instead of questions. Another, who lost contact with his stationolitical coup and from then on was under the Immediate direction of headquarters, says he received little guidance from headquarters because no one there had any solid knowledge of his area, but he did not miss it; he preferred to be left to work alone.
Another Important requisite was evidently an equable temperament and faculty for adjusting not only to theand operational circumstances of the post but also to the character and attitude of the cover chief;mall post the Intelligence officer Is constantly exposed to the limelight of his cover chief's attention. Agreeabillty in interpersonalmust be complemented by firmness, but tact and
'ill cUJcusalon or thli psychological hazard, see Martin L. SchaQ'roblems in Singleton Cover, p.f.
equanimity are Important Ingredients In avoiding difficultiesission chief.
A few chiefs of small bases demonstratedoodof self-reliance and Ingenuity could make upack of operational experience and area knowledge. But whenofficers did not possess these compensating qualities, the odds against success were prohibitive. The practice of staffing small bases out of the sponsoring station had clear advantages In this as In other respects.
Most of the small stations and bases under study had an administrative assistant, but about one-sixth were dependent on working wives for secretarial and administrative support, and at another sixth the single operations officer was all alone. It was clear that the productivityost In one of the first two categories depended in large part on the caliber of theassistant or the ability of the officer's wife to step into the breach. The Large amount of administrative work required of all stations and bases, regardless of size, tended to be given de facto priority over operations because, as one base chief put It, "It takes some courage to omit administrativeIn order to carry out operations; you can letslide without headquarters' knowledge, but omitting an efficiency or property report will invariablyap on the knuckles."
At some bases the administrative load did not Interfere with the chief's Intelligence work because his administrativeas one of them reports, "was outstanding: she took over all the administrative work except for the accounting; sheoodood reportsop-notch communications clerk, and she had no personal problems; she was really too goodere base I" Others had to neglect operations because they did notood administrative assistant Most frustrated were the base chiefs who had had and then lost one, asale administrative assistant proved so valuablene-man base during its first year that he was pulled back to the station "because be was so good"
Thereew men among thethe small stations, most of them
the operating division encouraged those who showed aptitude
help even Ld cryptographic work. They seem all to have been, as the; had to be, stable, self-sufficient, and willing to endure the hardshipsmall post in one of the less desirable areas, for the posts that depended solely on wives for administrative support were almost all In out-of-the-way places.
The officers at one-man bases that had no administrative help at all generally fared better than those with mediocrebecause they were supported administratively by their sponsoring stations; even the Intelligence reports of the out-
station were possible. It was suggested that If the station itselfmall post without clerical help, Its reports might
On whether the administrative workload Itself could and should be reduced, opinion among the base chiefs was divided. Those that had good administrative assistants or theirwork done by their station had no complaints, one of them concluding that "the administrative requirementsaserainase officer's time are exaggeratedroblem.'* But the less fortunate, particularly wheredemands were heavy, complained vehemently about the administrative burden and urged that It be reduced.matters were especially singled out, and one base chief said he spent half his day answering dispatcheschools, property, and so on.
Toward the end of the period under review, however, there was some reduction In the administrative demands placed on small posts,horough streamlining of theirprocedures was reported to be In prospect
Direction and Guidance
The studyide variety of experience with the direction and guidance provided by headquarters to smalland by headquarters and stations to small bases.direction, since the "go-out-and-operate" days of the early fifties, was shown on the whole to have Improved "with the Improvement in itss one chief of station said. Some of the best teachers were the very officers who served at small posts and knew what was needed; some
branches adopted the excellent practice ot having selectedserve one year on the desk supporting their former post before being released for assignment elsewhere.
One form of guidance particularly appreciated atwas the timely evaluation of their work anda number of base chiefs felt that headquarters wasIn this respect. They remarked that "anon the back would have been overwhelminglyrecalled that "there were limes when evaluations ofreports were far behind,acklog; port* still unevaluated, and the base was In thethe usefulnessof Its reporting."
The lack of specific guidance from some stations regarding the current plans and operations of their subordinate baseserious problem. The base chief who "preferred to be left to work alone"are exception; most of the officers who had little guidance said they needed it badly. Distance wasa factor,asemorchousand miles from Its station "recelvectgooa month-to-monthdespite infrequentnd some bases locatedclose to their stations received so tittle guidance they felt that "the station did notamn about the base from the start"
The bases that did receive the necessary guidance wereIn frequent contact with tha station through aof visits arranged In advance. The base chief visited the station every month or twoeriod of two or three days, the frequency being determined In each case by operational need as modified by cover and travel conditions; In onet was as often as every two weeks. Sometimes the travel burden was divided by meeting to alternate months at the base and at the station.
Visits to the station offered base chiefs the chance to get full and current political briefings to obviate the collection deficiencies which can be caused by an Isolated base's lack of sensitivity as to what Is timely and new. Copies ofreports producedtation were also regardedource of inspiration and guidance when transmitted regularly to Its base. Some stations designated one officer to look after all matters pertainingase and to visit it periodically.
The old adage about safety In numbers applied lo cover;mall mission where relationships among the staff are close and the work each member does is apparent tothe intelligence officer must spend more lime on cover duties If he is to maintain any semblance of cover. Moreover. Lack of privacy can make such activities as encipheringor preparing pouches difficult and time consuming, and Lack of anonymity demands greater .care in blending one's comtags^tnd^gpbigs^wlth thegeneralne base chief was aflflfe officer; his cover work took only about one-fourth of nrs^me and It made his position look genuine. But even In this favorable setup he found It awkward to haveto^deax his desk of Intelligencevery time' them out again after taking care of him.
n some places the intelligence officers were easily spotted because of departures from the norm. In
of the two secretaries worked exclusively for the Intelligence officer, though he was Junior In rank to several others on the staff.umber of Instancesover mission had lo curtail travel becausehortage of funds the intelligence officer was still required to make long trips. In one case the Intelligence officer was quickly exposed among the genuine members of the cover organization because he was not familiar with Its administrative and operating procedures and ItsJargon.
Cover positions varied widely In their demands on time and In the extent to which they furthered in tell lgrr.ee operations. One base chief hadduties which generally tookf bis time, and some days he had to devote entirely to cover work Another was the In aaVa^BBk an! 'hen the principal was traveling, about threeear, this man had to spendf his time on work of no intelligence value But the rest of the time the two Jobs meshed very well; he had to spend onlyf his time on strictly cover duties, and because therelose parallel between bis intelligence and cover Interests he often obtainedingle source both overt and covert informa-
tlon and used It for two different reports. Another basethat his load of work was heavy but his coverhelped him operatlonallyand permittedtravel^anothm* coverand
hance make contacts; but his assistant, whose cover was that of aanot share in these.
Cover problems were accentuated when the chief of the
the mission deliberatelylng intelligence operation. In less extreme cases the cover .chief would frown on clandestine agent, contacts or forbid contact with high government officials except by priorOthers levied requirements that seemed inappropriate and of doubtful value. Al most posts, however. relationships with the cover chief were reported good to excellent. Thereonsensus that the quality of this relationship was of paramount importance to the conduct of operations.
A one-man post is best suited for an intelligence purpose that Is circumscribed in advance; the intelligence targets In the area may be few, or Ihe post may be intended to do Its collection Job primarily or exclusively through liaisonocal service. If the targets are many and varied and have to be reached through Independent operations, twoofficers will on the average be three timesingle one.
There are three main reasons why the additionecond man should generally more than double the productivityost's operations. First, the daily exchange of operational viewsaluable catalyst for both officers In theof operational approaches. Second, the number of equally important targets In one place may be too much for one man to handle effectively, and If these targets an In widely diversified environments secure contact by the same officer can be difficult. Third, certain bases expected loeffective, not merely nominal, coverage of targets locatedonsiderable distance need one officer to man the base
while the other undertakes the travel necessary lo develop contacts, recruit agents, and maintain regular contact with them in the outlying places. The manase ins frustrated at being unable "totwo or three weeksime In the frontier area,continuous attention to spotting and developing there'"
The additionecond Intelligence officer doubles the case-officer potential, generallyecrease to the per capita administrative burden. In some cases It may mean thenccroductive post end one that could Just as well
and need. And even when operationsecond mansometimes Impossible toover position for him;must be expanded through the use of
The productivityase is conditioned not oruy byof operators, but by their competence andrelative freedom from administrative work and fromcover duties, the direction they receive, andof the base's purpose. The officerne-manthe chiefwo-man post should have priorand some area preparation, but hisare resourcefulness and self-reliance; theymake up for lack of experience. He should also beif the post's cover chief is known to be difficult,ability to deal withan
Cover problems are too variegated to admit of integralbut more imaginative thought should be put Intothe cover arrangements In Individual instances.the additiononofflclal cover man would give more operational flexibility than another officer under official cover.
Any practices whichmall base to feel Ignored by headquarters and Its station should be eliminated Regular visits between base and station and the practice oftation officer to look after mattersase should be encouraged.
An officerne-man base who has to do his ownwork and some cover work In addition has little time for Intelligence operations and is therefore of little use to his organization. If be cannot beompetent
irunistrative assistant and his wile cannot fill the gap. hiswork should be done by the sponsoring station. The ad-mirdstrative workload of small bases should In any case be reduced to the indispensable minimum
The factors which Inhibit the productivity of smallsometimes singly, sometimes In combination.are most frequent at posts opened infor no cogent intelligence purpose. When the needpost has not been thoroughly investigated and onlyare adduced to Justify an expansion, the Inevitable
tjies axe poor staffing and lack of direction? 'can hardly be expected.Original document.